The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on August 13, 1978 · Page 359
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 359

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Los Angeles, California
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Sunday, August 13, 1978
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Page 359
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CALENDAB LOS ANGELES TIMES AUG. 13, 1978 A D-Day Landing by xBig Red One' in Israel BY JOAN BORSTEN Some of the many faces of nightclub comedian Jackie Mason: "Right there at the top with Greene and Rickles.' Jackie Mason: How Jewish Is Too Jewish'? BY LEE GRANT They know that more than three critics and two rabbis come to see Mason in the resorts of the Catskill Mountains, the saloons of New York City and the showrooms of Las Vegas. "Jackie," said one TV executive, "is simply the best there is in a club, right there at the top with Shecky Greene and Don Rickles." But there is a catch here. Rickles has made the transition to TV situation comedy. Greene shows up often on talk shows. Mason, however, has run into barricades. "I want to be a superfamous motion picture and television comedy star," he said. "But people won't buy me and won't tell me why." Inquire around town. Why hasn't Jackie Mason made it big? There's hedging and sidestepping. Could it still be residual feeling from the famous incident of 1964 in which Ed Sullivan charged Mason with making an obscene gesture at him on television? "He s insane, unpredictable, can't be trusted," Sullivan said then. Do people still believe hiring Mason is hiring trouble, hiring a problem? Or is it, as Mason contends, something darker? Could it be that deep, European, ethnic, Jewish accent, and that blatantly Jewish demeanor? It doesn't seem a matter of anti-Semitism (Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and Mel Brooks are visibly Jewish) but more a matter of demographics. Can Jackie Mason, an ordained rabbi, the first in his family to be born in the United States (the rest in Minsk, Russia), play Idaho, the small towns of Please Turn to Page 36 Jackie Mason's Lower East Side accent was waffling through the telephone wire. The voice was uncertain, vacant, low. "Why do you think I never made it so big? Why do you think I never caught on?" Mason, 47, a brilliant nightclub comedian, is, in a manner, desperate. He aches for recognition, affection, stardom. "If I'm so good," he said, "if I'm such a sensation, such a hit, how come nobody comes to see me but three critics and two rabbis?" It was a few days before Mason would journey from New York to Los Angeles for a one-night stand at the Rosy, the bastion of Sunset Strip pop music. He would invite an array of Hollywood TV and movie types, "to dramatize my availability-" NETANYA, Israel-On a beach 15 miles north of Tel Aviv, Samuel Puller, playing director in cotton polo shirt, baggy bermudas and Adidas sneakers, wades into the tepid, pea-green Mediterranean. An inverted sailor hat protects his white mane from the fierce midday sun. Transparent pilot's goggles shield his eyes from the salty spray. "Ready?" he queries through a red bullhorn. Three special effects experts from England and three graduates of the Israeli Army's demolition corps nod. Bikini-clad wardrobe mistresses and script supervisors, bare-chested technicians and sunburned walk-ons scurry for cover under colorful umbrellas planted along the beachfront. "Picture," growls Fuller, cigar clamped between his teeth. A mine explodes. Fifty yards out at sea, wearing heavy winter uniforms tagged with the distinctive Red One shoulder patch of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, several dozen Israeli extras tread water. Thanks to careful casting and a capable American barber, they look like authentic dogfaces. Also jumping waves and carrying M-l rifles are Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby DiCicco and Kelly Ward. Fighting the powerful undercurrent and ducking "shrapnel," the GIs advance through'a scale replica of one small portion of Omaha Beach as it was on D-Day (re-created from Cornell Capa photographs). Fuller energetic, feisty, vicariously reliving his own stint as a Big Red One corporal talks to them around teller mines and tetrahedrons. Beyond the famous "seven yards of hell," oblivious to the fireworks, two dozen Israeli extras doze in Nazi uniforms. Fuller, an auteur film-maker recognized by European critics and movie buffs before he was honored in his native America, is shooting the invasion of Normandy sequence for "The Big Red One." The $6 million project for Lorimar Productions may well become the quintessential World War II epic. Most of the film, which Fuller began scripting more than 30 years ago while still soldiering in the Ardennes, will be made in Israel, a country that has never before served as the principal location for a non-Jewish, nonbiblical movie. "We planned to film at the very scenes of Fuller's war experience," explains producer Gene Corman ("F.I.S.T."). "But North Africa and Europe have changed over three decades. The primitive Sicilian towns that Fuller remembered have gone modem; television antennae and telephone poles mar the skylines. The once Please Turn to Page 26 SPOTLIGHT Gordon Davidson of the Mark Taper Forum talks about problems keeping an independent regional theater independent. Dan Sullivan interview. Page 52. Shakespeare comes to TV. Cecil Smith reports from a Scottish castle on the BBC's plan to televise all of the Bard's plays. Page 92. Natalie Wood turns 40 and feels great about it. Roderick Mann interview. Page 27. On the anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, Robert Hilburn compiles a list of Elvis' top songs. Page 62. Private opera recordings are hot items for serious collectors. David Wallace reports. Page 58. A Treasure of Mexico This snarling jaguar, from the Veracruz culture, is included in the "Treasures of Mexico" exhibit at County Museum of Art. See Williom Wilson review. Page 80.

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